3 March 1913, Frankfurt
Somebody who speaks about spiritual science today cannot count on general approval. Since all habitual ways of thinking of our time have grown out of a ground which is different from that of spiritual science.
Since the aurora of modern natural sciences, the essential progress of human mind is based on the observation of the outer world and on the application of the reason to this outer world. Spiritual science has completely to acknowledge natural sciences and their results. However, today we live again in a time in which mind and soul of the human being long more and more for an answer of those questions that exceed the sensory view and rise to the creative powers of existence, and look for them in the spiritual.
Spiritual science is based not only on quite different requirements but also on another way of research than natural sciences apply. However, one must not believe that spiritual science contradicts natural sciences in any sense. On the contrary. Even if it takes its starting point from quite different requirements and research methods, spiritual science — understood properly — completely complies with the scientific results.
Natural sciences are based on the outer view. They have achieved great things also with the development of those tools that enable us to look into the physically smallest things. However, if natural sciences want to do their task, they have to limit themselves to that which approaches the human being from without which one can grasp with the senses and understand with the reason. Knowledge of spirit can establish only on an inner deepening of the human soul by which the soul discovers cognitive abilities and forces in itself that exist neither in the usual day life nor in the outer science. Yes, if this usual science were intermingled in ambiguous way with spiritual-scientific methods, it would get only to unjustified results in its area. Still one will find if one deeper invades into the matter that the same kind of thinking, the same logic that our natural sciences apply one also applies in spiritual science. However, we have to realise that the human soul itself is the only instrument to invade into the supersensible world. It is not allowed to stop at the everyday life, but requires that it can deeper invade into the things from the point of view of the everyday life. So that this can happen, so that the human being can become a spiritual researcher, it is necessary that the soul behaves in its whole inner life different than it was accustomed before it entered the way to spiritual research.
Our soul life proceeds in such a way that we think and feel certain things, that we have mental pictures in our soul. Which sense and purpose do we connect with this soul life? We mostly connect the purpose with it to get to know the outer world and to orient ourselves in this sensory world. The spiritual researcher is concerned with something else. He has to select single mental pictures, sensations, ideas, or impressions that can be useful for him. I would like to take a comparison.
Let us assume that we compare the whole soul life that proceeds in manifold mental pictures, which change at every moment, with many corns that exist in ears on a field. The owner of the field selects some of the corns. While he lets the other corns achieve their goal to serve as food, he selects single ones that should serve as seeds and have to produce new fruits.
In a quite similar way, the spiritual researcher has to behave with his soul life. While, otherwise, the mental pictures proceed without surveying them, he has to select single mental pictures that he does not use for the outer cognition of the world. One calls that concentration, meditation, and contemplation. Which sense does one connect with these words? We want to figure out the process that the spiritual researcher carries out.
At certain times, the spiritual researcher must try to turn away his attention completely from the outside world. Then he also suppresses all worries of life, all desires, affects, and passions. He has to empty the soul, to cause a kind of empty consciousness. He selects single mental pictures of his soul life or of spiritual science whose contents do not matter and is engrossed in these mental pictures — not in their contents, they do not matter. However, the spiritual researcher behaves in such a way that he moves a mental picture arbitrarily in the centre of his consciousness, and calls all soul forces and retains this one mental picture in his consciousness, namely for longer time and with all inner strain. It only matters that the soul makes an effort that everything is concentrated upon one point. If you have to do any work where you have always to strain your arm and if this work has a purpose, you must exert yourself constantly to fulfil the purpose of this work. However, if you want to strengthen your muscles, it may just mattes not to reach this or that purpose, but to evoke the forces that exert the muscles, so that they develop. That also applies to the soul forces with meditation and concentration, namely with forces which are different from those which one applies in the usual everyday life. We never exert our souls, so to speak, concerning the forces that we consider here if we live in the everyday life. We have to evoke deeper soul forces to concentrate on a mental picture. That is the point that we strain the soul in such a way that we also have the inner will for it.
If we get a mental picture because we can be stimulated from without, then the mental picture is caused in our soul without our assistance. It is there — we have not produced it. The mental pictures that are attached to worries, to desires, and passions originate without any effort. They are to no avail to us if we want to make our soul the instrument of the higher world. Not that is the point that we have a mental picture, but that we exert ourselves to move the mental picture in the centre [of our consciousness]. If the human being calls his deepest soul forces in patience and perseverance this way, something new happens for the soul. You can find the details about that in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?. This is something that today many people do not want to believe that for the soul something new can happen. We can compare this new to a moment which takes place in the human soul life [at a certain time]. The little child lives up to the second, third years consciously, but not self-consciously. One may say in a way that the consciousness of the child sleeps, before in the child the moment comes where it knows: I am an ego. This is a kind of awakening. It is a kind of awakening also if in the described way the soul is raised to another level of existence if it is made an instrument to behold into the spiritual world.
What you experience in your soul if you carry out such exercises can be compared with something with which it is similar on the one hand and from which it is, on the other hand, quite different: with falling asleep. How does this usual sleeping state approach the human being? I do not go into the details of the scientific hypotheses of sleep. Without special scientificity, I talk only about that which the human being experiences in the everyday life falling asleep.
We know that at the moment of falling asleep the senses no longer deliver impressions. The mind starts darkening. The human being transitions into a state in which his body is not active. At first spiritual science has to say — what logic already confirms — that the whole human being does not exist in the sleeping human being, but that the real human being leaves the body in sleep and is free from the body, that the human being is beyond his body. Now this is a hypothesis at first, but spiritual science verifies this hypothesis as a reasonable truth. Natural sciences more and more approach that which spiritual science has to say at this point. Du Bois-Reymond states that natural sciences can understand the sleeping but never the conscious-wake human being.
If one does not want to be so illogical to state that every evening all desires and passions disappear and originate anew in the morning from nothing, one has to suppose that they are still there. However, within the physical body they do not exist. This means that the human being is with his inner being beyond his body. However, this inner being is of supersensible nature, hence, one cannot see it.
There may be people who say that just certain things take place in the human being and cause other processes so that the soul life takes place. — Someone who speaks that way is in the same position as someone who believes that one can understand the nature of the air investigating the lung and its activity. One can understand the air if one investigates it beyond the body. Then it penetrates into the human body; the lung is there to use the air. Natural sciences will just discover more and more that one can compare the inner activities of the human body during sleep with the inner activities of lung and heart. It is an inner bodily work. However, just as little as the lung produces the air, just as little is that which penetrates as soul life the organism more and more a product of the body; rather it penetrates into the body, and it is beyond the body from falling asleep up to awakening.
One can still argue many things against that. One can understand these things only really, if one can prove by facts that that is something essential which leaves the body in sleep as one supposes it.
This just happens with the spiritual researcher if he does those soul exercises that I have discussed just now. Thereby he causes that soul condition which is free of the body. While the spiritual researcher refrains from that which his body provides for him, he causes that — completely awake — he leaves the body unexploited. During the soul activity, the body must not be active like in sleep. The senses must be quiet; the worries and passions that the outer life stimulate must be quiet as they are quiet, otherwise, only in sleep. The spiritual researcher causes a completely empty consciousness. Then, however, he puts one single mental picture in the centre of his soul life. For it, he needs forces that slumber, otherwise, in the depths of the soul and that he strengthens now by exercises so that he can perceive them.
What the spiritual researcher experiences he has just to experience if it should be conceded as fact. It resembles the sleep under the mentioned circumstances: it is connected neither with the movements of the body nor with the outer senses and the reason. While such state is caused, otherwise, only in sleep, the spiritual researcher gets around to getting to know his soul from a new side with his exercises. He knows, there is an inner life of the soul, even if the soul renounces everything that comes from the body. One may prove ever so much with some outer reasons that the human soul cannot live free of the body — the insight that, nevertheless, it is able to do it originates only if the body-free state is caused. Then one knows that one has a soul life that is completely different from the former soul life that the body has caused. One would like to say, this is a basic experience which the spiritual researcher attains if he has done such exercises long enough if he has already conjured up strong forces from his soul. In my book How Does One Attains Knowledge of Higher Worlds?, you can read up further details about that. I would like to describe the typical of this experience.
If one has carried out the exercises long enough, a particular inner experience appears. Either one awakes from the depth of sleep, or, one feels tempted to pause in the middle of the day life. What happens then is a kind of pictorial experience. Then you have the feeling that something goes forward, as if a lightning has struck you. What goes forward?
The human being thinks possibly that way: now you feel what you have always felt as your body, filled with physical elements, and is taken away from you. — Indeed, you realise now that strong forces are necessary to keep upright compared with such an experience. One feels that which one has always called approaching the gate of death. One is vividly acquainted with that which appears at death. Indeed, now changed feelings and mental pictures appear in the soul. Now you know what it means to stand no longer by yourself as it was the case before. Now you feel the soul transformed so that you know, it is not dark and quiet, but is internally active if you renounce any co-operation of the physical body.
This experience is very significant. It is a dramatic experience for the soul. It is something about which the soul says, whatever I have experienced up to now in life, I cannot compare the significance of this experience that sometimes shakes the soul. A lot of that which I have felt up to now only as slumbering in the backgrounds of existence of which I believe that I can only anticipate it, takes place before my eyes. Hence, I know now: yes, the human being is connected in his innermost core with that world which is behind the sensory world and which, actually, the sensory world veils only.
However, you know something else. You know that it was necessary to do such exercises, to strengthen the soul. You know this, because you realise that to the experience of the described a certain faculty of judgement is necessary and a kind of moral courage to maintain yourself. The soul forces that you have taken out of its depths give this courage and faculty of judgement. You find the further details of this way again described in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?. If you have arrived at this point, you just know: unless you have prepared yourself, you would approach this event with two qualities which are doubtful to the highest degree if they appear in the context with these experiences and which you get to know only at this point of soul development: self-love, or more precisely, self-sense, and a certain fear and insecurity of those regions which are behind the sensory world. Self-sense or self-love plays a big role in the usual life, but the soul can always master them. Bad habits appear in our souls, and we can change them. Unless we want to change them, we can at least feel that we could change them. Compared with a force of nature, flash and thunder, we do not have the feeling that we can change it. If we entered without preparation into the state that I have just described, you would realise that you have strengthened, indeed, your soul forces, but that you have also brought out something else, namely reinforced self-love. Only if you have also strengthened the other soul force, you are able to decrease this self-sense. Just as little as you are able to resist flash and thunder, just as little you are able to resist self-sense, to snatch it away from the soul life.
However, if you have made the soul an instrument for the spiritual world in the right way, then the survey of the picture enables you to recognise this self-sense in its true form. Since this picture shows something else than one could describe it with few words. It shows everything that we have called our ego, our soul up to now as put beyond ourselves. It shows what we have wanted up to now from which you suffer, with which you are pleased. Now you know: I have to place down all that from myself if I want to develop that out of myself, which can lead me into the supersensible world.
You get to know yourself as soul at this point of existence only. You know now what it means to face yourself with true self-knowledge; you know that you retain nothing of that for a higher knowledge which you have called your ego up to now — you have to cast off it and retain it as something external. Facing yourself objectively, considering yourself as another person or as an object is a preparation for penetrating into the spiritual world. However, this requires that you have also developed the strong forces to defeat the reinforced self-sense. Someone who has not done this would experience infinite pain if he realised that he has to cast off and renounce everything that he has suffered in order to behold into the spiritual world. — Nothing of that which serves to you in the world seems suitable to lead you into a higher world.
Hence, it is necessary that you defeat self-sense. Something else yet appears. If the human being does this experience, he notices that his whole security of life was contained in that which you have to set aside from yourself, which you ignore now. There fear seizes you, because you must leave behind for a while what gave you security up to now. Now it is as if you lose ground. Only if you have attained other forces, you do not have fear but courage to penetrate into the unknown land of spirit. What lives there in the soul as fear appears quite different to you. The soul life is something very complex. Only a part of it is aware; another part rests always down in the depths of the soul that the spiritual researcher brings out with his power. The human being only knows a part of his soul life; other parts work into the usual soul life. However, the human being knows nothing about them. Yes, the usual soul life often is there to blanket what rests in the concealed depths of the soul. The human being helps himself to get over them, while he deceives himself. For that who knows the soul a phenomenon is very interesting which appears to the human being of the present paradoxical, but it is true.
In the present, we see people, materialists, who do not want to search the spirit in its true figure on the way of spiritual life. Why does one become a materialist? If you understand, why this is the case, you become tolerant on one side towards the materialist because you realise that under certain conditions the soul cannot be different if it does not receive the suggestion to come out of materialism. Since that who investigates the soul of the materialist notices that in its depths nothing but the fear of the spiritual world prevails.
It is that way. Even if the materialists resent that, it is in such a way. They are afraid in the depths of their souls without knowing it; they are afraid of the spiritual world because they have a dark feeling of the fact that they lose ground if they leave the sure ground of reason. They are afraid of it, and, therefore, they blanket this fear with materialist theories, as one dazes himself against fear. The materialist monism is nothing but dazing fear in the depths of the soul. The true psychologist will be able to recognise this always. In the materialist-monistic theories is not only that which the materialists say, but always fear is visible between the lines. The reinforced soul power must overcome this fear, and then the human being dares to jump over the abyss and to penetrate into the spiritual area.
Then the human being becomes aware that, indeed, his soul life splits for the experience of the spiritual world in a way. What does this splitting mean? Expressly I would like to emphasise that the true spiritual researcher should not be a dreamer or romanticist who wants now to leave the sensory world completely and to live in the spiritual world. He has to attract that again about which he knows that he must cast off it for the spiritual world. The spiritual researcher must manage to move about freely between beholding the spiritual world and living in the sensory world, otherwise he is no spiritual researcher but a daydreamer for the outer world. He reaches this if he takes a healthy soul life as starting point.
Hence, you can convince yourselves that the real spiritual researchers are sober in the everyday life because they have realised objectively, not only subjectively that it is necessary to consider everything soberly to be no romanticists. They position themselves in the usual life as practical people. They know how to keep the balance between the usual life praxis and the life in the spiritual world. It is very important just to stress this point because the soul life must split, as well as a big number of corns are separated from a few which are not consumed, but are used as seeds.
Thus, the human being realises that his soul life is not completely separated from himself. He sees as it were a part of this usual soul life beside himself; he feels it as something that cannot place him in the spiritual world: the corns that serve as food. However, the other part bridges the abyss. This is that part which develops from concentration; it is that part which is used as seeds for the soul life that goes to the spiritual world. So that it develops healthily, it is necessary that the spiritual researcher is able at this point to behave different from that who — with a pathological soul life — has reached this special point which he learns to feel as very painful.
That which approaches the spiritual researcher if he has fulfilled all preconditions is that he does no longer need from a certain time on to concentrate upon certain mental pictures, but they appear spontaneously from his empty consciousness which show a new world. A new world fills his consciousness. For the outer viewer this world becomes very similar to the pathological hallucinations. However, they are only externally similar. A pathological soul life leads to hallucinations. The healthiest soul life of the spiritual researcher leads to the world of pictures or Imaginations. We realise with that who sees an imagery emerging with an unhealthy soul life that he believes with an inner force in their reality that he believes that his delusions are true. Many of us know that one can dissuade a person who is ill this way often from that which he sees with the eyes but not from the “reality” of his hallucinations. Why is this the case? Because just in such pathological soul life which appears with such strong force also the self-sense increases. The person concerned is one with his mental pictures; he produces them from his soul; they are the silhouettes of the soul life, they are compressed imagination. Because he himself is that, he believes so firmly in them. Since the human being must believe absolutely in himself if he wants to stand firmly in the world — and then he believes in his visions like in an objective world.
The spiritual researcher has to attain defeating the self-sense that he has now to remove that imagery arbitrarily again which can work so blissfully on him. If anybody does the exercises in the right way about which I have spoken, he attains the ability to extinguish this imagery — which appears really as a spiritual world as in the morning the sun appears on the horizon. The exercise has to consist of the special will training that one not only gets around to evoking this imagery but also to extinguishing it again — any knowledge is based on it in the higher world. This is the difference compared to the pictures of the pathological soul life. If the exercises are done, the human being attains the peculiar force to make his will gradually stronger and then to diminish it again. One does not have this ability in the usual life. One can make efforts and refrain from them. One has to learn this only by training that one makes the will as strong as I have described it. If the whole imagery has emerged, one must consciously weaken the will more and more which has conjured up this world and must be able to let sink this whole world. However, one is able to do this only after defeating the self-sense.
Think only what you demand from your soul. You demand that you assert yourself at first to evoke such a world; then, however, you must extinguish it again. You cannot enjoy it. You must see the whole world, which we have developed by external strains, sinking in the depths of your consciousness as mental pictures that you have forgotten. If you have attained this, you enter only into the true spiritual world, the world of spiritual beings and facts. The spiritual researcher knows by the preceding exercises that he lives now in the spiritual world. If he did not have acquired this ability to let disappear all that again, he could not be a free observer of the spiritual world. You can compare that with a situation where you look at a thing and cannot turn away from it. Turning your attention to and away from something corresponds in the area of spiritual observation to attaining the impressions and removing them. If the human being has come to this point, not only the splitting takes place which I have already described but he faces two separate areas as it were. From one area he experiences that he has to set aside it from himself; he feels, it is that which he has estimated up to now as his only possession about which he also recognises that he casts off it at death. A certain courage is necessary to grasp this in real knowledge. Since the human being recognises that he must learn to deprive himself of something willingly to which he is attached and which is snatched away from him usually only at death.
Then he gets to know that as it were the fruit that is chosen as seed is the human essence which is not taken up in the physical body, but which is only the basis of it. The essence is due not to the ancestors, but originates from the spiritual world; it uses what the parents give to the external-bodily existence.
Spiritual science points out that in the human being probably the qualities of the ancestors live that, however, it is an inexact consideration if one says that the human being is only composed of that which he inherited from the parents. Physically the human being bears the characteristics of his physical heredity, but something spiritual-mental can come only from something spiritual-mental. You can get to know the spiritual-mental core this way. Because the human being is an internally closed individuality, you are not concerned with something generic. That is, the spiritual-mental core is rooted in the individual of the human being. However, with it we realise that teaching of repeated lives on earth.
This spiritual-mental that we bear in ourselves and through the gate of death is rooted in a former life on earth and further ones, until there comes a time when it lived for the first time. What rests in this part of our being walks through the gate of death and lives then in a supersensible existence. From this, the human being enters into a new earthly life while he proceeds towards the line of heredity.
You realise, the logic is completely the same as in natural sciences. He who wants to fight against it does only not know about which he talks, actually. Since if that who stands on scientific ground wanted to say: nevertheless, one can prove that the qualities are inherited from the parents —, one must answer to him: as far as natural sciences can prove it, one can only say: it is true! — If, however, the materialist monist says, because one has inherited these qualities from the ancestors, they could not be due to that which the human being has acquired in a former life as forces which appear in his current life again, then one has to answer, one can say just as well, the human being is wet because he has fallen into water. — The one is true because the other is true. It is true that the human being has inherited certain qualities from his ancestors — it is true, however, also that he was attracted by these parents because he has to appropriate the forces which he can get just from these parents. Something spiritual causes something spiritual only.
Someone who wants to look properly at this matter admits that today spiritual science has to go forward as Francesco Redi did who had to establish the sentence as a scientific truth: life can only originate from life. — Spiritual science will experience the same destiny with reference to the acceptance of this truth. People did not accept this sentence with pleasure. Only by the skin of the teeth, Francesco Redi escaped from the destiny of Giordano Bruno. Today one does no longer talk of heresy, but today one calls the persons daydreamers who have to announce something new. Today one has milder methods than burning at the stake to prevent what must come into our civilisation. However, it will happen in such a way as it always happened in such cases. What one called pipe dream at first becomes self-evident afterwards.
I have already said, one is not surprised about opposition. The thing is in such a way that not only those who deal a little with these things, but also those who want to enter into the spiritual world with good will do not yet want to understand the teaching of the repeated lives on earth.
With the teaching of reincarnation, we face the question of immortality quite unlike if one judges it concerning an infinite time. Then you face immortality in such a way that you see it establishing link about link. One speaks of the fact that the soul lives on because one realises that in one life on earth the seed of another life is enclosed
We see a human being growing up from his earliest childhood in affectionate surroundings, and we see another human being growing up in surroundings that can work only badly on him. Why is it that way? There we must consider the one and the other life caused by a former life on earth. Even if it sounds hopeless, on the one hand, that every misfortune is self-inflicted, one has to say, and nevertheless that good luck and misfortune concern something else if one considers good luck and misfortune from the only entitled viewpoint.
What I mean with it, I would like to show by an example. An eighteen-year-old young man whose father was very rich led a loose life. He wanted to learn nothing, enjoyed life only, and was on the way to become a scapegrace. Then his father died, and at the same time, his property got lost. The young man was thereby forced to learn something, to work, and he became a capable person. There he had to say to himself, what seemed to be misfortune was good luck for me.
Thus, we have to say to ourselves in a misfortune, we have determined ourselves for this misfortune from a former life; we have led ourselves to this destiny. Then it is unjustified to judge a misfortune, while we experience it. One has to consider it as the result of a former imperfection. We have to say to ourselves, the soul would not be able to develop completely if it did not experience this misfortune. The misfortune can be a school of perfection.
If anybody has already here attained a knowledge that he has gained in life, and we ask him, you have experienced grief and pain, joy, and bliss — which experience would you rather give away? — If the human being contemplated about the true issue, he would answer: I accept joy and bliss gratefully; but from the sufferings, I have just received my knowledge: I would never have become that who I am. — One judges suffering different from the viewpoint of the usual sensations. Thus, one must not call the teaching of repeated lives on earth hopeless. What is given to us with this teaching? The question of immortality and the question of destiny. The question of immortality is solved because we know that this life carries the seed of the following life in itself. Thus, the whole life combines to an immortal one quite scientifically. The question of destiny is solved because destiny is necessary for development. Trying to understand death and pain means strictly speaking that you develop interest for the big riddles of life.
In 1909, a great scholar, Charles W. Eliot, held a lecture about the future of religion. He admitted that the human being has to get from the natural processes to assuming spirit and soul; however, he also demanded that the future worldview must not take death and pain as starting point. He said, the worldviews of the past talked about pain and grief. The sufferings are reduced with joy. A worldview should talk only about joys and overcome pains. — One would like to agree with him, because, indeed, it would be desirable that the human being could speak also about a joyful material life. However, if the human being wants to refrain from death and pain and says, I do not want to build up a worldview on grief and pain, I want to accept a joyful life only, then one must answer to him, even if you accept a joyful life, death and grief come automatically, they approach you, they enter into your life. Only such a worldview can really cope with the riddles, which, like spiritual science, encompasses suffering and joy because both are means of perfection. A worldview can only cope with death if it understands that the spiritual-mental core has to cast off the cover that it has around itself as the plant seed has to cast off the withering leaves and blossoms. To enter into the next life we have to develop the spiritual-mental core that has to cast off the body, has to go through death.
There one copes with death because one recognises that one can get to a new life with it. One recognises death as the root of the immortal life. Not because one copes with the world riddles grief and death that one closes the eyes before them as Charles Eliot means, but that one recognises them as necessary like luck and life. I have just said that in the present many preconditions are not yet there to penetrate into these things. I would like to quote a man who tried to settle deeply in spiritual problems who delivered some wonderful, however, also often mystically-blurred things, Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949, Belgian author). He approached the question of immortality in the last time. He got to know the teaching of reincarnation and karma. You can literally read in the translation of his newest work (La mort, On Death, 1913) about that which he regards as “faith.” He regards spiritual science as faith. He says: “Since there never was a faith, which is nicer, fairer, purer, more moral, more fertile, more comforting and more probable in a certain sense than this.” — He means the “faith” of theosophy. —
“With its teaching of gradual atonement and purification it only gives a meaning to all physical and spiritual dissimilarities, to any social injustice, to any outrageous injustice of destiny. However, the goodness of a faith is no proof of its truth, although 600 million people follow this religion. Although it is closest to the origins wrapped in darkness, although it is the only religion that is not spiteful and not vulgar, it would have had to do what the others did not do: to give us unquestionable proofs. Since what it gave us up to now is only the first shade of the beginning of a proof.”
There you see such a person who has approached spiritual science who finds, however, no possibility to provide a proof — what he calls a proof.
One has to say to that first: if he does not regard anything as proof, it does not mean that this view cannot be proved, but it means that this view has not penetrated him. It is typical for the present that it is so hard for people to find their way to something that once will be a matter of course.
Secondly, one has to say, if you just find such a statement like that of the brilliant Maeterlinck and you figure it out deeper, the thought suggests itself automatically: should this view of repeated lives on earth be proven? As well as I have today discussed that — even if sketchily — I have given what you can call a rationale. However, it may be that anybody demands something of a proof that one cannot demand at all from a proof.
I would like to remind of something else. There were always people who dealt with squaring the circle. Those persons who invented proofs over and over again have gradually become a real scourge of mathematical societies. Since they received a number of such proofs every year, which all were nonsense. However, one always believed that the proof would be found once. Finally, the Paris academy did not know how to escape and cast them into the wastebasket. Nevertheless, it was not allowed to suppose that the proof could not be found. Once one could reflect on squaring the circle, now no longer, because meanwhile one proved that this proof could not at all exist. The squaring the circle is not possible. Nevertheless, there are very simple means to transform the circle into a square. One takes a paper, cuts a circle out, carves it into small pieces; and puts them into a square. Then one has not done it with calculation but with an action. One cannot calculate it, but one can go forward this way. Nevertheless, the thing is true and reasonable, but one has searched the proofs in the wrong way. Maeterlinck does it that way. He demands something that requires a wrong way of thinking.
We realise from it which difficulties even today exist to acknowledge spiritual science. We realise just in this newest work of Maeterlinck that also such a man manages hard [with these thoughts]; we realise that it is difficult to introduce spiritual science into humanity.
One cannot say, well, if the thing is in such a way as you have told, then only the spiritual researchers can enter into the spiritual world. That is not the case. To be a spiritual researcher is only necessary to search the things in the spiritual world. If one has found them, however, one has to transform them into a thought-image as I tried it in my book Occult Science. An Outline. If then this thought-image is properly created, the common sense can understand it, and then one does not need to prove it in such a way, as Maeterlinck believes it. Everybody can understand spiritual science who considers that unbiasedly which the spiritual researcher has transformed into thought-images. As you do not need to be a painter to understand a picture, you do not need to be a spiritual researcher to understand the spiritual facts that the spiritual researcher has received from the spiritual world. The common sense is able to do this if it is not bound to prejudices. The soul needs that which the spiritual researcher has transformed into a picture for its security and strength. The spiritual researcher has still nothing of the spiritual world if he only walks around there; he has something only if he transforms that which he beholds into thought-images and ideas.
Although in our time everybody can become a spiritual researcher to a certain degree as I described it in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?, so that he can convince himself directly of that which I have said today, it is not necessary that everybody is a spiritual researcher. It is as with a riddle that you have to solve; you have not to prove the solution if you find it out for yourself. If you face spiritual science properly, you combine with it from understanding, as well as one can find the solution of a riddle.
He who delves into spiritual science settles in it. Because the soul is destined for truth and not for error, we know if we have penetrated into the spiritual world by the messages of the spiritual researcher: we have understood it. — If the solution of a riddle is told to us, we believe not only that it is in such a way, but we also know it. This is the case with the understanding of spiritual science. It cannot be accepted only on authority, but as soon as it has been informed to us, our soul adjusts itself so that we also understand it. The spiritual researcher has a little bit more of this understanding if he has transformed the spiritual facts and truths into thought-images. Every human being who approaches spiritual science has the same for his soul; he has a new relationship to the riddles of life, to the question of death. This understanding is not only theoretic, but can serve as an elixir of life. If a human being is so educated that the spiritual-scientific concepts live in him, he will also feel towards age in such a way that he can probably understand the Goethean word “one becomes a mystic in old age.” Then he says to himself, if my limbs start withering if my body pines away, I am like the plant seed whose leaves wither. The spiritual-mental core arises in me. One will not only know about this essence, one will feel it as a force that goes through the gate of death and through a spiritual world to prepare a new life again. This solution of the question of immortality is practical for life. The human being will experience the immortal in himself.
Spiritual science will become an elixir of life this way; it will be able to give the human being strength and security. We know that today life is more complex because of the triumphs of natural sciences than it was once. We also realise that the soul sometimes needs a support that it cannot have from that which you can get spiritually from the past. Natural sciences continue to lead humanity from triumph to triumph. However, with it the human being will be torn more and more. Strong inner forces have to be there. Only spiritual science is able to strengthen the human beings enough not to get nervous by the effects of modern life. If, however, anybody really penetrates into spiritual science, he rises more and more to those viewpoints to which the true spiritual researcher rises already today.